By MELINDA WILLIAMS
The source of diesel fuel that entered the regional wastewater treatment plant in January was undetermined, but its impact on the facility was said to be “minimal.”
Operations and laboratory staff at the Fairlawn plant detected an odor of kerosene or diesel fuel entering the primary clarifiers in the early morning hours of Jan. 14.
Pepper’s Ferry Regional Wastewater Treatment Authority Superintendent Mac McCutchan said an investigation found the odor to be strong at the Radford pump station. Radford City and Montgomery County public works staff assisted with the investigation in an effort to determine from which section of the system the spill originated.
An assessment of sample material collected at the pump station determined the material stopped entering the station by 7:30 a.m. The samples were found to have a “high concentration of off-road diesel fuel,” said McCutchan.
Despite the investigation, he said neither the source of the fuel nor the amount of fuel spilled could be determined. Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) was notified of the incident and how the Authority’s staff responded to the incident.
McCutchan said that while there was some loss of life in the biomass, staff’s rapid response to the incident enabled the treatment system to “withstand the shock.”
Continued monitoring over a three-day period detected no problems and the system continued to operate within the plant’s parameters.
“Except for the odor of fuel oil which persisted for several days, there was no other adverse effects,” McCutchan said.